Barack Obama

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Barack Obama (Բարաք Օբամա) United States President (2009-2017)

Contents

Obama and the Armenian Genocide issue on his official visit to Turkey

Obama addressed the issue in response to a reporter's question at a joint press conference in Ankara with President Abdullah Gul of Turkey.

Obama said his views hadn't changed, but then went on to answer the question without using the word "genocide."

It's a little long, but we think it's worth quoting the entire exchange here so you can read it for yourself. The transcript identifies the reporter as Christi Parsons of the Chicago Tribune[1]:

Parsons: "As a U.S. senator you stood with the Armenian-American community in calling for Turkey's acknowledgement of the Armenian genocide and you also supported the passage of the Armenian genocide resolution. You said, as President you would recognize the genocide. And my question for you is, have you changed your view, and did you ask President Gul to recognize the genocide by name?"

Obama: "Well, my views are on the record and I have not changed views. What I have been very encouraged by is news that under President Gul's leadership, you are seeing a series of negotiations, a process, in place between Armenia and Turkey to resolve a whole host of longstanding issues, including this one.

"I want to be as encouraging as possible around those negotiations which are moving forward and could bear fruit very quickly very soon. And so as a consequence, what I want to do is not focus on my views right now but focus on the views of the Turkish and the Armenian people. If they can move forward and deal with a difficult and tragic history, then I think the entire world should encourage them.

"And so what I told the President was I want to be as constructive as possible in moving these issues forward quickly. And my sense is, is that they are moving quickly. I don't want to, as the President of the United States, preempt any possible arrangements or announcements that might be made in the near future. I just want to say that we are going to be a partner in working through these issues in such a way that the most important parties, the Turks and the Armenians, are finally coming to terms in a constructive way."

Parsons: "So if I understand you correctly, your view hasn't changed, but you'll put in abeyance the issue of whether to use that word in the future?"

Obama: "What I'd like to do is to encourage President Gul to move forward with what have been some very fruitful negotiations. And I'm not interested in the United States in any way tilting these negotiations one way or another while they are having useful discussions."

Later, in a speech to the Turkish Parliament, Obama brought up the historical events and referred to his previous views, but again he did not declare the events genocide:

"Human endeavor is by its nature imperfect. History is often tragic, but unresolved, it can be a heavy weight. Each country must work through its past. And reckoning with the past can help us seize a better future. I know there's strong views in this chamber about the terrible events of 1915. And while there's been a good deal of commentary about my views, it's really about how the Turkish and Armenian people deal with the past. And the best way forward for the Turkish and Armenian people is a process that works through the past in a way that is honest, open and constructive."

On the Importance of US-Armenia Relations

January 19, 2008

I am proud of my strong record on issues of concern to the one and a half million Americans of Armenian heritage in the United States. I warmly welcome the support of this vibrant and politically active community as we change how our government works here at home, and restore American leadership abroad.

I am a strong supporter of a U.S.-Armenian relationship that advances our common security and strengthens Armenian democracy. As President, I will maintain our assistance to Armenia, which has been a reliable partner in the fight against terrorism and extremism. I will promote Armenian security by seeking an end to the Turkish and Azerbaijani blockades, and by working for a lasting and durable settlement of the Nagorno Karabagh conflict that is agreeable to all parties, and based upon America's founding commitment to the principles of democracy and self determination. And my Administration will help foster Armenia's growth and development through expanded trade and targeted aid, and by strengthening the commercial, political, military, developmental, and cultural relationships between the U.S. and Armenian governments.

I also share with Armenian Americans – so many of whom are descended from genocide survivors - a principled commitment to commemorating and ending genocide. That starts with acknowledging the tragic instances of genocide in world history. As a U.S. Senator, I have stood with the Armenian American community in calling for Turkey's acknowledgement of the Armenian Genocide. Two years ago, I criticized the Secretary of State for the firing of U.S. Ambassador to Armenia, John Evans, after he properly used the term "genocide" to describe Turkey's slaughter of thousands of Armenians starting in 1915. I shared with Secretary Rice my firmly held conviction that the Armenian Genocide is not an allegation, a personal opinion, or a point of view, but rather a widely documented fact supported by an overwhelming body of historical evidence. The facts are undeniable. An official policy that calls on diplomats to distort the historical facts is an untenable policy. As a senator, I strongly support passage of the Armenian Genocide Resolution (H.Res.106 and S.Res.106), and as President I will recognize the Armenian Genocide.

Genocide, sadly, persists to this day, and threatens our common security and common humanity. Tragically, we are witnessing in Sudan many of the same brutal tactics - displacement, starvation, and mass slaughter - that were used by the Ottoman authorities against defenseless Armenians back in 1915. I have visited Darfurian refugee camps, pushed for the deployment of a robust multinational force for Darfur, and urged divestment from companies doing business in Sudan. America deserves a leader who speaks truthfully about the Armenian Genocide and responds forcefully to all genocides. I intend to be that President.

I look forward, as President, to continuing my active engagement with Armenian American leaders on the full range of issues of concern to the Armenian American community. Together, we will build, in new and exciting ways, upon the enduring ties and shared values that have bound together the American and Armenian peoples for more than a century.

Quoted In Azerbaijan

From October 27, 2005 Harut Sassounian column:

US Senator Barack Obama (Dem.-Illinois), seems to be one of those rare Members of Congress with integrity. When harassed by Azeri journalists during his recent trip to Baku over his signing of a letter to Pres. Bush asking him to recognize the Armenian Genocide, he bravely told the Azeris: “I believe the letter sent by the Senators to President George Bush to recognize the genocide of Armenians reflects historic facts.” He is quoted by AzerNews as saying that the letter to Bush indicated that a large number of innocent Armenians were killed during the genocide. “By signing the letter, I also defended the interests of the State of Illinois [that] I represent. Killing civilians anywhere in the world should not be allowed, ” Sen. Obama said. Not too many politicians would stand up in hostile territory and defend their principled position on an issue.

Obama Cabinet Genocide Quotes

Armenian National Committee of America 1711 N Street, NW Washington, DC 20036 Tel. (202) 775-1918 Fax. (202) 775-5648 Email.anca@anca.org Internet www.anca.org

PRESS RELEASE January 13, 2009 Contact: Elizabeth S. Chouldjian Tel: (202) 775-1918


MENENDEZ URGES CLINTON TO REAFFIRM ARMENIAN GENOCIDE

-- Asks Secretary of State-Designate to Continue Record of Armenian Genocide Recognition During Confirmation Hearing Viewed by Tens of Millions

-- Watch Video exchange between Sen. Menendez and Sec. Of State Designate Clinton at http://www.youtube.com/ANCAgrassroots

WASHINGTON, DC - Speaking today during the nationally televised Senate Foreign Relations Committee confirmation hearing for the incoming Secretary of State, Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ) praised Hillary Clinton's long record of support for Armenian Genocide recognition and urged her to continue her principled stand on this core human rights issue as the nation's top diplomat, reported the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA).

"We want to thank Bob Menendez for raising the need for U.S. recognition of the Armenian Genocide today during Sen. Clinton's confirmation hearing, which was watched intently by tens of millions across the United States and around the world," said Aram Hamparian, Executive Director of the ANCA. "His comments, which cited both the Secretary of State-Designate's longstanding support for the Armenian Genocide Resolution and President Obama's pledge to properly recognize the Armenian Genocide as President, reflect the fact that the incoming Administration includes an unprecedented number of officials with substantial track records of fighting for the proper acknowledgement and commemoration of this crime against humanity."

During Senate Foreign Relations Committee questioning, Sen. Menendez stated:

"I hope that the support that you gave while you were a Senator to the question of the Armenian Genocide, that the President-Elect has himself supported, recognition of that. You know, if we are to say never again, part of that is ultimately the recognition of what has happened so that we can move forward. And I hope that you will be an advocate of having us get off of where we have been and move forward to a recognition of that part of history that is universally recognized so that we can move forward in that respect."

"And I also hope in a part of the world that's very important to me, on the question of reunification of Cypress, that we have honest brokers at the State Department, at the end of the day. One that recognizes that if Greek and Turkish Cypriots could work with each other, they would seek a bi-zonal, bi-communal federation that could move forward and reunify the island and end the incredible militarization of the island - the most militarized part of the world per capita. So, I hope that you will look at those issues. I know the positions you've taken as a Senator and I applaud them. I hope that they won't change drastically as you move to Secretary of State."

Secretary of State Designate Clinton responded:

"Senator, we will be looking very closely at those and other challenging issues with the eye of moving forward and being effective in responding to these very legitimate concerns."

Video of the exchange is posted on the ANCA YouTube channel: http://www.youtube.com/ANCAgrassroots

President-elect Obama and Vice-President-elect Biden have actively, repeatedly, and energetically called for U.S. reaffirmation of the Armenian Genocide during their terms in the Senate. Of President-elect Obama's cabinet level nominees to date, at least four, including Secretary of State Designate Hillary Clinton, have championed this human rights issue.

Excerpts of statements by key Obama Administration officials regarding Armenian Genocide affirmation are provided below.

  • President-elect Barack Obama: "The Armenian Genocide is not an allegation, a personal opinion, or a point of view, but rather a widely documented fact supported by an overwhelming body of historical evidence. The facts are undeniable... America deserves a leader who speaks truthfully about the Armenian Genocide and responds forcefully to all genocides. I intend to be that President." (1/19/08)
  • Vice President-elect Joe Biden: "Recognition by the United States of the Armenian Genocide is not the final goal. The real goal is the recognition of Turkey - of the Turkish Government - of the Armenian Genocide and the establishment of a common Turkish-Armenian understanding of the events and tragedy that took place," stated Sen. Biden. The real goal is the recognition of Turkey, of the Turkish Government, of the Armenian Genocide and the establishment of a common Turkish-Armenian understanding of the events and tragedy that took place." (7/29/08)
  • Secretary of State-designate Hillary Clinton: "I believe the horrible events perpetrated by the Ottoman Empire against Armenians constitute a clear case of genocide. I have twice written to President Bush calling on him to refer to the Armenian Genocide in his annual commemorative statement and, as President, I will recognize the Armenian Genocide. Our common morality and our nation's credibility as a voice for human rights challenge us to ensure that the Armenian Genocide be recognized and remembered by the Congress and the President of the United States. (1/24/08)
  • CIA Director-designate Leon Panetta: "April 24, 1915, signified the beginning of a systematic attempt by the Ottoman regime to deport and exterminate Armenians from the Anatolian Peninsula. Over the next 8 years, 1 1/2 million Armenian people were murdered by minions of the Ottoman Empire. Those who were spared were driven from their homes. It is for those victims, and it is for all oppressed peoples today, those who have died and those who survived, that we take time to reflect on the Armenian genocide and its implications for all of us today." (4/29/92)
  • Interior Secretary-designate Ken Salazar: Cosponsor of Armenian Genocide Resolution S.Res.106. (4/16/07)
  • Labor Secretary-designate Hilda Solis: Cosponsor of Armenian Genocide Resolution H.Res.106. (1/31/07)
  • Transportation Secretary-designate Ray LaHood: Cosponsor of Armenian Genocide Resolution H.Res.106. (8/27/07)

In addition to Administration officials, the U.S. Congress is today led by among the most energetic and vocal advocates of American recognition of the Armenian Genocide:

  • Speaker of the House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi: "A grave injustice was committed and the fact that our nation is not officially recognizing these crimes as genocide is a disappointment." (12/12/08)
    • Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid: "It truly saddens me that after 93 years, the U.S. has failed to acknowledge the Armenian genocide for what it was." (4/24/08)
  • House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Howard Berman: "Genocide is a very powerful word, and should be reserved for only the most horrific examples of mass killing motivated by a desire to destroy an entire people. Without a doubt, this term is appropriate to describe the unimaginable atrocities suffered by the Armenian people from 1915 to 1918." (4/27/06)
  • Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman John Kerry: "Acknowledging when genocide has occurred is not simply a theoretical or legal exercise. It is key to preventing genocide from happening again. That's why, in my view, we must change U.S. policy to reflect the true nature of the tragic events that were perpetrated against the Armenians by calling them what they were: genocide." (6/19/08)

Genocide Statements

Obama's first genocide statement has already broken his promise to openly use the correct word for the events of WWI. Instead, he refers to the fact that he used to use the word in the past, and hasn't changed his mind about it.

2009 Statement

THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
___________________________________________________________
For Immediate Release April 24, 2009
Statement of President Barack Obama on
Armenian Remembrance Day

Ninety four years ago, one of the great atrocities of the 20thcentury began. Each year, we pause to remember the 1.5 million Armenians who were subsequently massacred or marched to their death in the final days of the Ottoman Empire. The Meds Yeghern must live on in our memories, just as it lives on in the hearts of the Armenian people.

History, unresolved, can be a heavy weight. Just as the terrible events of 1915 remind us of the dark prospect of man’s inhumanity to man, reckoning with the past holds out the powerful promise of reconciliation. I have consistently stated my own view of what occurred in 1915, and my view of that history has not changed. My interest remains the achievement of a full, frank and just acknowledgment of the facts.

The best way to advance that goal right now is for the Armenian and Turkish people to address the facts of the past as a part of their efforts to move forward. I strongly support efforts by the Turkish and Armenian people to work through this painful history in a way that is honest, open, and constructive. To that end, there has been courageous and important dialogue among Armenians and Turks, and within Turkey itself. I also strongly support the efforts by Turkey and Armenia to normalize their bilateral relations. Under Swiss auspices, the two governments have agreed on a framework and roadmap for normalization. I commend this progress, and urge them to fulfill its promise.

Together, Armenia and Turkey can forge a relationship that is peaceful, productive and prosperous. And together, the Armenian and Turkish people will be stronger as they acknowledge their common history and recognize their common humanity.

Nothing can bring back those who were lost in the Meds Yeghern. But the contributions that Armenians have made over the last ninety-four years stand as a testament to the talent, dynamism and resilience of the Armenian people, and as the ultimate rebuke to those who tried to destroy them. The United States of America is a far richer country because of the many Americans of Armenian descent who have contributed to our society, many of whom immigrated to this country in the aftermath of 1915. Today, I stand with them and with Armenians everywhere with a sense of friendship, solidarity, and deep respect.

2010 Statement

THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
___________________________________________________________________

For Immediate Release
April 24, 2010

Statement of President Barack Obama on Armenian Remembrance Day

On this solemn day of remembrance, we pause to recall that ninety-five years ago one of the worst atrocities of the 20th century began. In that dark moment of history, 1.5 million Armenians were massacred or marched to their death in the final days of the Ottoman Empire.

Today is a day to reflect upon and draw lessons from these terrible events. I have consistently stated my own view of what occurred in 1915, and my view of that history has not changed. It is in all of our interest to see the achievement a full, frank and just acknowledgment of the facts. The Meds Yeghern is a devastating chapter in the history of the Armenian people, and we must keep its memory alive in honor of those who were murdered and so that we do not repeat the grave mistakes of the past. I salute the Turks who saved Armenians in 1915 and am encouraged by the dialogue among Turks and Armenians, and within Turkey itself, regarding this painful history. Together, the Turkish and Armenian people will be stronger as they acknowledge their common history and recognize their common humanity.

Even as we confront the inhumanity of 1915, we also are inspired by the remarkable spirit of the Armenian people. While nothing can bring back those who were killed in the Meds Yeghern, the contributions that Armenians have made around the world over the last ninety-five years stand as a testament to the strength, tenacity and courage of the Armenian people. The indomitable spirit of the Armenian people is a lasting triumph over those who set out to destroy them. Many Armenians came to the United States as survivors of the horrors of 1915. Over the generations Americans of Armenian descent have richened our communities, spurred our economy, and strengthened our democracy. The strong traditions and culture of Armenians also became the foundation of a new republic which has become a part of the community of nations, partnering with the world community to build a better future.

Today, we pause with them and with Armenians everywhere to remember the awful events of 1915 with deep admiration for their contributions which transcend this dark past and give us hope for the future.

2011 Statement

THE WHITE HOUSE

Office of the Press Secretary

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

April 23, 2011

Statement by the President on Armenian Remembrance Day We solemnly remember the horrific events that took place ninety-six years ago, resulting in one of the worst atrocities of the 20th century. In 1915, 1.5 million Armenians were massacred or marched to their death in the final days of the Ottoman Empire. I have consistently stated my own view of what occurred in 1915, and my view of that history has not changed. A full, frank, and just acknowledgement of the facts is in all our interests.

Contested history destabilizes the present and stains the memory of those whose lives were taken, while reckoning with the past lays a sturdy foundation for a peaceful and prosperous shared future. History teaches us that our nations are stronger and our cause is more just when we appropriately recognize painful pasts and work to rebuild bridges of understanding toward a better tomorrow. The United States knows this lesson well from the dark chapters in our own history.

I support the courageous steps taken by individuals in Armenia and Turkey to foster a dialogue that acknowledges their common history. As we commemorate the Meds Yeghern and pay tribute to the memories of those who perished, we also recommit ourselves to ensuring that devastating events like these are never repeated. This is a contemporary cause that thousands of Armenian-Americans have made their own. The legacy of the Armenian people is one of resiliency, determination, and triumph over those who sought to destroy them. The United States has deeply benefited from the significant contributions to our nation by Armenian Americans, many of whom are descended from the survivors of the Meds Yeghern.

Americans of Armenian descent have strengthened our society and our communities with their rich culture and traditions. The spirit of the Armenian people in the face of this tragic history serves as an inspiration for all those who seek a more peaceful and just world. Our hearts and prayers are with Armenians everywhere as we recall the horrors of the Meds Yeghern, honor the memories of those who suffered, and pledge our friendship and deep respect for the people of Armenia.

2012 Statement

THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 24, 2012

Statement by the President on Armenian Remembrance Day


Today, we commemorate the Meds Yeghern, one of the worst atrocities of the 20th century. In doing so, we honor the memory of the 1.5 million Armenians who were brutally massacred or marched to their deaths in the waning days of the Ottoman Empire. As we reflect on the unspeakable suffering that took place 97 years ago, we join millions who do the same across the globe and here in America, where it is solemnly commemorated by our states, institutions, communities, and families. Through our words and our deeds, it is our obligation to keep the flame of memory of those who perished burning bright and to ensure that such dark chapters of history are never repeated.

I have consistently stated my own view of what occurred in 1915. My view of that history has not changed. A full, frank, and just acknowledgement of the facts is in all of our interests. Moving forward with the future cannot be done without reckoning with the facts of the past. The United States has done so many times in our own history, and I believe we are stronger for it. Some individuals have already taken this courageous step forward. We applaud those Armenians and Turks who have taken this path, and we hope that many more will choose it, with the support of their governments, as well as mine.

Although the lives that were taken can never be returned, the legacy of the Armenian people is one of triumph. Your faith, courage, and strength have enabled you to survive and prosper, establishing vibrant communities around the world. Undaunted, you have preserved your patrimony, passing it from generation to generation. Armenian-Americans have made manifold contributions to the vibrancy of the United States, as well as critical investments in a democratic, peaceful, and prosperous future for Armenia. The United States is proud of your heritage, and your contributions honor the memory of those who senselessly suffered and died nearly a century ago.

On this solemn day of remembrance, we stand alongside all Armenians in recalling the darkness of the Meds Yeghern and in committing to bringing a brighter future to the people of Armenia.

2013 Statement

The White House
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release
April 24, 2013
Statement by the President on Armenian Remembrance Day

Today we commemorate the Meds Yeghern and honor those who perished in one of the worst atrocities of the 20th century. Ninety-eight years ago, 1.5 million Armenians were massacred or marched to their deaths in the final days of the Ottoman Empire. We pause to reflect on the lives extinguished and remember the unspeakable suffering that occurred. In so doing, we are joined by millions across the world and in the United States, where it is solemnly commemorated by our states, institutions, communities, and families. We also remind ourselves of our commitment to ensure that such dark chapters of history are not repeated.

I have consistently stated my own view of what occurred in 1915, and my view has not changed. A full, frank, and just acknowledgement of the facts is in all of our interests. Nations grow stronger by acknowledging and reckoning with painful elements of the past, thereby building a foundation for a more just and tolerant future. We appreciate this lesson in the United States, as we strive to reconcile some of the darkest moments in our own history. We recognize those courageous Armenians and Turks who have already taken this path, and encourage more to do so, with the backing of their governments, and mine.

The history and legacy of the Armenian people is marked by an indomitable spirit, and a great resiliency in the face of tremendous adversity and suffering. The United States is stronger for the contributions Armenian-Americans have made to our society, our culture, and our communities. In small measure we return that contribution by supporting the Armenian people as they work toward building a nation that would make their ancestors proud: one that cherishes democracy and respect for human liberty and dignity.

Today we stand with Armenians everywhere in recalling the horror of the Meds Yeghern, honoring the memory of those lost, and affirming our enduring commitment to the people of Armenia.

2014 Statement

The White House
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release
April 24, 2014
Statement by the President on Armenian Remembrance Day

Today we commemorate the Meds Yeghern and honor those who perished in one of the worst atrocities of the 20th century. We recall the horror of what happened ninety-nine years ago, when 1.5 million Armenians were massacred or marched to their deaths in the final days of the Ottoman Empire, and we grieve for the lives lost and the suffering endured by those men, women, and children. We are joined in solemn commemoration by millions in the United States and across the world. In so doing, we remind ourselves of our shared commitment to ensure that such dark chapters of human history are never again repeated.

I have consistently stated my own view of what occurred in 1915, and my view has not changed. A full, frank, and just acknowledgement of the facts is in all of our interests. Peoples and nations grow stronger, and build a foundation for a more just and tolerant future, by acknowledging and reckoning with painful elements of the past. We continue to learn this lesson in the United States, as we strive to reconcile some of the darkest moments in our own history. We recognize and commend the growing number of courageous Armenians and Turks who have already taken this path, and encourage more to do so, with the backing of their governments, and mine. And we recall with pride the humanitarian efforts undertaken by the American Committee for Syrian and Armenian Relief, funded by donations from Americans, which saved the lives of countless Armenians and others from vulnerable communities displaced in 1915.

As we honor through remembrance those Armenian lives that were unjustly taken in 1915, we are inspired by the extraordinary courage and great resiliency of the Armenian people in the face of such tremendous adversity and suffering. I applaud the countless contributions that Armenian-Americans have made to American society, culture, and communities. We share a common commitment to supporting the Armenian people as they work to build a democratic, peaceful, and prosperous nation.

Today, our thoughts and prayers are with Armenians everywhere, as we recall the horror of the Meds Yeghern, honor the memory of those lost, and reaffirm our enduring commitment to the people of Armenia and to the principle that such atrocities must always be remembered if we are to prevent them from occurring ever again.

2015 Statement

THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 23, 2015

Statement by the President on Armenian Remembrance Day

This year we mark the centennial of the Meds Yeghern, the first mass atrocity of the 20th Century. Beginning in 1915, the Armenian people of the Ottoman Empire were deported, massacred, and marched to their deaths. Their culture and heritage in their ancient homeland were erased. Amid horrific violence that saw suffering on all sides, one and a half million Armenians perished.

As the horrors of 1915 unfolded, U.S. Ambassador Henry Morgenthau, Sr. sounded the alarm inside the U.S. government and confronted Ottoman leaders. Because of efforts like his, the truth of the Meds Yeghern emerged and came to influence the later work of human rights champions like Raphael Lemkin, who helped bring about the first United Nations human rights treaty.

Against this backdrop of terrible carnage, the American and Armenian peoples came together in a bond of common humanity. Ordinary American citizens raised millions of dollars to support suffering Armenian children, and the U.S. Congress chartered the Near East Relief organization, a pioneer in the field of international humanitarian relief. Thousands of Armenian refugees began new lives in the United States, where they formed a strong and vibrant community and became pillars of American society. Rising to great distinction as businesspeople, doctors, scholars, artists, and athletes, they made immeasurable contributions to their new home.

This centennial is a solemn moment. It calls on us to reflect on the importance of historical remembrance, and the difficult but necessary work of reckoning with the past. I have consistently stated my own view of what occurred in 1915, and my view has not changed. A full, frank, and just acknowledgement of the facts is in all our interests. Peoples and nations grow stronger, and build a foundation for a more just and tolerant future, by acknowledging and reckoning with painful elements of the past. We welcome the expression of views by Pope Francis, Turkish and Armenian historians, and the many others who have sought to shed light on this dark chapter of history.

On this solemn centennial, we stand with the Armenian people in remembering that which was lost. We pledge that those who suffered will not be forgotten. And we commit ourselves to learn from this painful legacy, so that future generations may not repeat it.

2016 Statement

The White House
Office of the Press Secretary
April 22, 2016
Statement by the President on Armenian Remembrance Day

Today we solemnly reflect on the first mass atrocity of the 20th century—the Armenian Meds Yeghern—when one and a half million Armenian people were deported, massacred, and marched to their deaths in the final days of the Ottoman empire.

As we honor the memory of those who suffered during the dark days beginning in 1915—and commit to learn from this tragedy so it may never be repeated—we also pay tribute to those who sought to come to their aid. One such individual was U.S. Ambassador Henry Morgenthau, Sr., who voiced alarm both within the U.S. government and with Ottoman leaders in an attempt to halt the violence. Voices like Morgenthau’s continue to be essential to the mission of atrocity prevention, and his legacy shaped the later work of human rights champions such as Raphael Lemkin, who helped bring about the first United Nations human rights treaty.

This is also a moment to acknowledge the remarkable resiliency of the Armenian people and their tremendous contributions both to the international community as well as to American society. We recall the thousands of Armenian refugees who decades ago began new lives in the United States, forming a community that has enormously advanced the vitality of this nation and risen to prominence and distinction across a wide range of endeavors. At a moment of regional turmoil to Armenia’s south, we also thank the people of Armenia for opening their arms to Syrian refugees, welcoming nearly 17,000 into their country.

As we look from the past to the future, we continue to underscore the importance of historical remembrance as a tool of prevention, as we call for a full, frank, and just acknowledgment of the facts, which would serve the interests of all concerned. I have consistently stated my own view of what occurred in 1915, and my view has not changed. I have also seen that peoples and nations grow stronger, and build a foundation for a more just and tolerant future, by acknowledging and reckoning with painful elements of the past. We continue to welcome the expression of views by those who have sought to shed new light into the darkness of the past, from Turkish and Armenian historians to Pope Francis.‎

Today we stand with the Armenian people throughout the world in recalling the horror of the Meds Yeghern and reaffirm our ongoing commitment to a democratic, peaceful, and prosperous Armenia.

See also




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